New book: “Ravaged Beauty” – an environmental history

coverThe long-awaited Ravaged Beauty: an environmental history of the Manawatu is available June 2014
Ravaged Beauty tells the story of one place, from prehistory to today. But its themes are universal. What motivates the human desire to modify and exploit their natural environment, and have people learned anything from the consequences? Read this new book to find out.

Only a century and a half ago, the Manawatu was a heavily forested hinterland: the floodplains were a sea of swamps and lagoons, teeming with birdlife, eels and other fish; the hills and terraces were covered with thick impenetrable forest, refuge perhaps to a few lingering moa.

But within a few decades, the forest had been reduced to ashes, and the swamps and lagoons were being drained away. Progress marched across the landscape in the form of farms and settlements.mail delivery in Pohangina Valley c 1907
However, it wasn’t long before nature “exacted its revenge”: erosion scarred the hillsides, floods ravaged farms and towns. Pollution of the rivers saw fish dying en masse. How would the people of the region meet these environmental challenges, and what lessons would there be for the future? By “peeling away the layers”, this book tells the intriguing story of the Manawatu’s environmental history, illustrated with a rich array of maps and historical images.
Order online at or purchase at a good bookstore near you.
Download Ravaged Beauty flyer (with ordering details)

7 thoughts on “New book: “Ravaged Beauty” – an environmental history

  1. Ro scott May 20, 2014 / 9:25 am

    Congratulations on the impending publication of your book! Will it be available in the UK?

  2. David Neufeld May 20, 2014 / 2:03 pm

    Congratulations on the upcoming release. I’m looking forward to the read.
    Have a great launch party.


    • envirohistorynz May 20, 2014 / 2:08 pm

      Many thanks, David. I look forward to getting your feedback on the book.

  3. Jonathan West June 28, 2014 / 8:17 pm

    Marvellous! Small kids will preclude any jaunt to balmy palmerston north; but being deep in drafting myself, i can guess how hard you’ve had to work to get this over the line. Great achievement. Will look forward to reading it.

  4. envirohistorynz June 29, 2014 / 8:38 am

    Thank you, Jonathan. Are you writing a book too? Would be interested to hear about it! Combining book-writing with small children is challenging, but certainly makes you a master of multi-tasking!

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